Having read Chapter 7: Serving the User, I began to relate alot of the challenges to Rural Ireland, but I don’t want to paint a bleak and backward notion of the region either.
I don’t live in rural Ireland but I have been part of it for a short time, WiFi is strong in some parts of the Island and weaker in others, however there is a vast number of the Irish population that is elderly, and here is were the problem lies.
Thinking about my own parents in their 70’s they have no idea what the internet is, they are constantly amazed when I bring my laptop home with me and spend hours on it doing work.
The most interesting piece of reflection came when the paper acknowledged “assistance” and the self-service option of a library. Many of these new self-service machines have been integrated into many libraries all over Ireland, however many are left idle. I was amazed recently in my own public library to see they had removed the self-service machine, when I asked they simply said that the area it was in was simply not working and there was nowhere else they could locate it in the library. Secondly they have a library catalogue service (again located in a very hidden place) but when I went to use it it was out of order, with a sign saying “please ask at desk”. As happy as I was to see these 2 things happen, as I always questioned them in my own mind, it is a shame that even though we are moving into a new technological era that some libraries are working away just doing the traditional process, like asking the librarian! But how long will this last, if staffing cuts are rising and more more people are using the library these 2 elements need to be able to take the pressure off the library as a whole.
This brings me back to my topic “Rural Ireland” because we are a country of warm engaging people and the elderly mostly will visit their library to integrate and communicate so that the self service option may not be the answer to many libraries problems, and that this technological change may hinder this user group access to the library.
I know for certain 1 county of Ireland there is no self-service and there is no library catalogue available, the county I live in now the library branches are very dispersed but I think it may be a useful investigation. I did live in the Capital city for 4 yrs and they do use the self service options widely, however their user group is much larger.
One to keep in mind!